The first sign that something extraordinary goes down on Hawaii Island is the tarmac smothered in private jets.
Our Kona hotel may have been half-full this holiday season, yet the super-rich are flocking to this lava land in record numbers. (I counted 62 jets of all sizes as we left Keahole last eve.)
Embarrassing! Why? Because this poorest of the islands gets its extra bucks at Christmas servicing the ostentatious frolicking of overpaid execs by schlepping daily dozens of jet fuel trucks from Hilo and prepping $100-a-plate meals for these gamboling glitterati (via PBN). There’s no sign of hard times here!
Pacific Business News attributes this divine deluge to the unusually high share of wealthy visitors, yet Kauai has an equal share (over 24% of visitors earn more than $150,000) and still Lihue Airport only parks a handful of private jets. (Fact is, Hawaii Island slipped from 1st to3rd in wealthy visitor share since 2000, behind Maui and Kauai.)
Methinks the particular gang of wealthy execs explains it: Silicon Valley seems to have settled on Kohala's Hualalai Resort (and surrounding estates) as the playground of choice. Especially since Michael Dell purchased Kona Village and turned it into the hottest thing since sliced nirvana.
Oh, and that gi-normous yacht anchored off the recently refurbished Mauana Kea Resort? Yup, that belongs to Paul Allen.
You can see the fleet of jets and yachts from way up on Mamalahoa Highway as you commute to your $12-an-hour job at the mac nut factory (or wherever).
Guess us grunts oughta feel grateful...